Wednesday, 29 January 2014 : 3rd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we heard about the parable of the sower, where the sower spread the seeds which fell on different kind of medium and ground, and thereafter bear different kinds of results. In this well known parable, the Lord compared the different effects of the medium has on the seeds, with the reality of humanity and their faith to the Lord.

The seeds spread by the sower is the seed of faith, that has been given to us by the Lord. Each and every one of us were created by God, and His Spirit is within us, and in each of us we have been given faith. We have also been given the seeds of love inside each of us, and we have the capacity of love, as the children of God. But this faith is dormant, and the love in us is also dormant.

Yes, faith must not be kept dormant in us, or it is indeed dead. Our faith must be backed up by love, that is actions of love. And therefore, love itself cannot be dormant, but we have to share it with others via our actions, and therefore, make that love bloom through our action as well. However, we often have to deal with our environment, that is our surroundings and the world in which we live in.

This world is filled with many good things, particularly that of temptations and the allures of material goods. It is easy for us to be influenced by them, and losing our compass towards the Lord. Using the same analogy, these challenges can be likened to the weed growths that threatened the growing crops in the field. And they are also likened to thorns that choked the life out of the growing seed, as explained by Jesus.

The way of the world is indeed easier to be followed than the way of the Lord. But while the way of the world apparently is easier and filled with goodness, but it ends in darkness and suffering, whereas the way of the Lord may appear to be difficult and ridden with challenges, but in the end is happiness and joy of living in the glory of the Lord. Yet, many of us prefer the shortcut and did not want to experience suffering and hence opted to follow the path of the devil.

This is what we should not do, brethren. It does not mean that our lives should be entirely filled with difficulties and challenges, neither does that mean that we cannot enjoy this life at all. What is more important is that, whatever the things we experience in life, and all the choices that we have to make in life, make it with the full conscience that we ought to obey the Lord and follow His ways in all the things we do.

When it is time that we receive much blessing and joy, then be happy and rejoice, and most importantly, do not forget to give thanks to the Lord who had given us that blessing. Do not be too engulfed by the joy either, that we forget about others who are not as fortunate as us. Instead, whatever joy we have within us, share it with one another, especially those who have none of that joy.

And when it is time of difficulty and challenges, let us endure them with grace and patience, and asking God to be with us and to guide us through those difficult times, much as what our holy saints and martyrs had done in the past, when the world rose up against them, even crying out for their lives. Do not fear, for God is always with us. Nobody can destroy us forever, for we have been marked to belong to God.

And that is why it is important for us to also have a deep faith in God, that is faith with strong foundations. Again I would like to stress that faith cannot be just mere lip service or on documents. Our faith must genuinely come from the heart, and not just that, but overflowing with love that pours out from our heart. Without good roots, then our faith will wither just like the seeds that wither on the rocky soil.

Faith substantiated with much love is what we need, and that is the recipe for the fertile growth of the seed that God had planted in each one of us. This faith must be real and concrete, with genuine love and care that we have for each and every one of our brothers and sisters in faith. And in that way, our faith will indeed bear much fruits, together with our love in us, and we will become blessed and bountiful with God’s blessing.

Let us remember always brethren, that we all have our obligations as those who had committed ourselves to the Lord and His ways. Each of us can contribute in our own ways, and fulfill the will of God, through faith that is vibrant, dynamic, and strong, and founded on love, genuine and pure, that we may be productive and fruitful in the eyes of God, and He who sees all, will reward us. God bless us all, always and forever. Amen.

Monday, 30 September 2013 : 26th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to a lesson on humility, and its importance, when we become the disciples of Christ, not to boast of our own glory, but rather boast of the glory of God, made evident in Jesus the Christ. That is because it is indeed the Lord who is worthy of all praise and glory, for His might, and even more importantly for the extent of the love that He had shown us through Christ.

The Lord wanted to teach His disciples, and through them, all of us, on the value and importance on humility and being humble, as the way to be a good and upright person, a good child of God. And Christ did not just preach and do nothing about what He taught, because in fact He truly practiced what He had preached.

How so? Jesus is truly humble and unassuming, although He is truly great, as the King of all kings. He is divine and omnipotent, and all creation is under His power and authority, as the Lord of all the universe, and yet, for our sake and our salvation from death, He is willing to make Himself small and insignificant, as small and unworthy as we are, to be man like one of us, although without sin.

In His humility too, He was born in a small stable, rejected by others, from inns and houses, that He had to be born among the animals and shepherds. He lived as a carpenter’s son and was ridiculed by His own people, the people of Nazareth, when He revealed the truth about Himself to them. He was humble in all of His ways and loving in all of His actions.

There is nothing that exemplifies His humility better than that of His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. That He lowered Himself to die a death of a slave, the death on the cross, condemned to death despite His innocence, for the sake of all of us. But that is also where the Lord’s words came true even more. That is because the symbol of the cross was transformed forever, from the symbol of shame to be a symbol of hope and victory.

Christ rose up from the dead in glory on the third day after His death, and He took His rightful place as the Lord of all things, having saved mankind through His death, that they will not die but live. On the other hand, the prideful and arrogant Satan was cast down in great shame, and forever he is condemned to the punishment prepared for him, for his prideful rebellion against the Lord.

With humility, we will go a long way, because with humility in our heart, we will be more ready to open it to the love of God, to the wisdom of God, and to His saving power. We will be more ready to listen to Him and take in all the teachings that He had told us, the commandments that He had given us to follow, that we become truly faithful and obedient to He who created us.

Humility allows one to understand one’s faults and weaknesses more readily, and also the understanding, that one’s sins had prevented one from reaching the Lord and eternal joy in heaven. That this will likely make one to atone for one’s own sins and do things that help to overcome those sins as well as doing good for others. That is how important humility truly is.

Without humility, we tend to be prone to fall into our own pride, and end up shutting the Lord and even our other beloved ones from our heart. We will tend to build up our ego, to the point that we think only about ourselves, and not for others, at all. We tend to do things for our own glory, and praising ourselves for our own greatness, without realising that, without God we are really nothing.

Today, brethren, we celebrate the feast of St. Jerome, a great writer of the early Church, and one of the greatest Doctors of the Church, as one of the original Four, together with St. Augustine, St. Gregory Nazianzen and St. as strong pillars of the Church. St. Jerome lived at a time when the faith has begun to take hold over the entire Roman Empire after it was no longer persecuted.

St. Jerome’s contribution to the Church is truly great, especially to the Church in the western parts of the Empire. The Roman Empire was a vast Empire spanning from Britain and the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the Middle East and Egypt, encompassing the entire Mediterranean Sea basin. The western part of that Empire spoke primarily Latin and its dialectic derivatives, the official language of the Empire.

The eastern part however, spoke primarily Greek and a variety of other ancient languages, and because the faith came and arose from that region, much of the Scripture that we know today was written in Greek or in the other eastern languages. It is St. Jerome who opened the doorway to the Scripture in the west, and therefore to us, by being the first to translate the Septuagint, that is the Greek Scripture, into the Vulgate, the Latin Scripture, written by St. Jerome himself.

St. Jerome also courageously defended the true and orthodox faith, defending it against every kind of aberrations and heresies that threatened to split the Church apart at that time. Through his writings and other works, St. Jerome kept the Apostolic faith alive and strong even in difficult times.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, as we celebrate the feast of this great saint, St. Jerome, let us also strive to be more like him. St. Jerome is an ascetic, one who withdrew from the pleasures of the world and reject worldly glories, putting the Lord above everything else. He is also humble, and he did his work with great humility, and yet he bore much fruits.

That is why, brethren, we too should emulate him, in doing good works in our own ways, even in small little ways. Because even in little things, good can eventually come in abundance. In humility too, we can become great, not in the way that the world sees it, but instead in the eyes of the Lord. Humility bears love, and that love will bear much good. Even in his ‘humble’ work as a writer, St. Jerome’s good works still affect us even until this day. All the Bibles that we read today eventually had their roots from the works of St. Jerome.

May St. Jerome intercede for us and pray always for us sinners, that we can remain in the grace of God, and receive His heavenly blessings. May God be with us and remain with us always. Amen.

Sunday, 22 September 2013 : 25th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today, we are clearly asked to make a conscious and a decisive choice. That choice we need to make, to decide whether we will serve the Lord our God, or whether we will serve this world and all its wealth and glory. There is only one choice we can make, and we cannot be divided in this matter of our choice.

We must be decisive, brethren, to pick our side. We cannot serve two masters, as Christ had mentioned in the parable of the dishonest servant. As He had pointed out, we will only love one of the two masters and grow to resent and despise the other one. We cannot commit ourselves fully to more than one master. We will only give our wholehearted support to one, and halfhearted support at most for the other.

It is important, brethren, to take note that, in our world today, of the prevalence of our desire and even greed for things material in nature, and for things that bring about wealth, prosperity, and worldly happiness. Our world is deeply engulfed in a sea of commercialism and materialism, brethren, that we see it so often in our surroundings, the prevalence of the love for the material and for wealth in general.

As I have often mentioned, the wealth and properties themselves are not intrinsically evil or bad. Money, material goods, and possessions are neutral and can be used for either good or bad, depending on our own utilisation on them, or in short, how they are used and the way they are used. However, it is often that they are misused in a bad way, and also even in their procurement, plenty of evil had happened throughout the history of mankind.

When we do not learn to manage our own desires and needs, we will likely be taken over by them and be corrupted by the evils of the world. Many people became engrossed over possessions and wealth, that they became enslaved to these goods. We glorify them and desire to seek more and more of them. When we are unable to gain them through rightful and legal means, we begin to veer off from righteousness and seek shortcuts.

What are these shortcuts, brethren? They are ways evil in God’s eye. If we do not keep the faith in the Lord, we are likely to succumb to the temptations of the devil. When we desire more of these possessions, and when we are forced into an unfortunate situation, as the dishonest servant had done, they will be less likely to hesitate to seek the source of money and wealth that can help them, often in an illegal manner.

That was what the dishonest servant had done, in trying to saving himself after having first dishonestly manage the wealth of his master, by ensuring his own security after being fired, by doing even more dishonest acts, which were cheating against his master, by unilaterally changing the debts of his master’s debtors. This is wicked act, brethren, very, very wicked act before the Lord our God.

In the first reading, we also note the prophet Amos rebuking the people of Israel, especially the elders, who dishonestly cheated on the people by abusing their power and authority for their own benefits, especially in financial terms. And these often happened because of human greed, for things that they desire more, especially money, material goods, and wealth in general. But doing so means to go against the will of God, and that was why Christ was so critical against such practices, as was the prophet Amos.

This is also why, we cannot be servant to both God and money, and we cannot have both of them as masters. That is why we must make a choice. Do we want to serve God with all our heart? Or do we want to give it to something like money instead? Money ought to be used as means for us to do something good for one another, and ought not to be something that we treasure so much, that we forget about everything else, about God and our fellow men, and worse still if we even hurt others because of money!

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us make this opportunity to affirm our faith and dedication to the Lord our God, that we love Him and serve Him more than any other things on earth and in heaven. That there is no one greater than God that we place at the first place within our hearts. That we fully dedicate ourselves to do the will of God, through our loving actions, using the graces given to us to do good for those around us who are less fortunate.

Yes, brethren, for those of us who had been given much, much also will be expected of us. But this does not mean that of we are relatively poorer compared to others, then we cannot do anything with what we have. We have to play our own role in the society, be it small or large. We should utilise the goodness that had been given to us, be it in talents and skills, or in financial and material contributions.

And not only in utilising the resources that we have, including money, that we should discern carefully, but we also must be upright in our obtaining of these divine graces of our possessions. Do not cheat others or seek to gain in their suffering and loss. We are often corrupt because we seek to gain in the expense of others, and simply because we desire to possess more of these often material, goods.

Therefore, brethren, let us from today onwards, resolve to change our lives and lifestyle, that we no longer revolve around money, and instead revolve and centre it on God and His love. Let us come to view money as something that we can use for our own happiness, and the happiness of others. Let us then not live for money, but use that money and possession that we have, to bring good and do good, for ourselves, for our brethren, especially those in need, and for God.

May the Lord who is loving, show to us how to love, and how to care for one another, that we can use what had been given to us, for the good of everyone. God bless us all and be with us all, always, forever and ever. Amen.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013 : 24th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Bishop and Doctor of the Church (Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear the long preaching by St. Paul in the first reading, on the criteria required of one to be the overseer of the people of God, that is in the more contemporary language, means to be bishops and leaders of the Universal Church, including the Pope himself, our leader and the Vicar of Christ.

Just as not anybody can become the ordained ministers of the Lord, that is priests and deacons, therefore, the higher ordained orders demand even greater requirements and even stricter criteria. That is important because, just as the Pharisees and the chief priests had led their people into ruin, the leaders of the Church and their capabilities are essential to lead the people of God into the right way, that is towards the Lord.

If the bishops are improperly chosen, and if the early Church had not carefully decided on whom should be the overseers, there would certainly be chaos and divisions within the Church, damaging the unity and structure of the Church of God. Bishops should be upright men, who placed the Lord first before all other things, and avoid any form of fornication or impurities that may cause them to deviate from the path of truth.

Bishops, the overseers of God’s work, did not have it easy brethren, as they certainly had much oppositions, and also heavy demands and expectations on their shoulders. That was why, St. Paul was very strict in his criteria of who should be chosen as overseers, as bishops of the Church, especially the Pope, the bishop of Rome, whom all believers look up to, as their moral authority in this world, representing Christ Himself.

The people look up to them as teachers and leaders, and uprightness and righteousness are important priorities for the selection criteria, those with commitment to the Lord and dedication to doing good for the sake of others, and for the sake of God, and those with the heart and dedication for service of the Lord and for His people in the Church. Certainly not someone who desires the position because they desire power, money, and privileges attached such positions.

Yes, brethren, we need someone who is truly dedicated and devoted to his position as leaders and shepherds of the faithful. We need good shepherds, modelled after Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, who gave His all to His sheep, that is all of us, fully dedicated to us, and most importantly filled with love for us, those who had been entrusted to Him. The same too, therefore, ought to be expected of those who had been entrusted with positions of authority in the Church.

Yes, loving in the same way that Jesus had loved His people, the people of God, especially those who are suffering, those who are unloved, and those who are rejected by the society. Today, He showed His love to the widow of Naim, who had just lost her son to death. He showed His love to her and to everyone, by exercising His authority over life and death, bringing the son of the widow back to life.

He was so moved with compassion over the sorrow of the widow, who had lost the only one she had possessed in this world, her beloved. The Lord truly understood that feeling. Imagine, brethren! How would the Lord feel, with each one of us lost day by day, to sin and damnation, that is to be separated for eternity from He who loves all of us, without exception. If we suffer from such separation, imagine the wounds that cause to the loving heart of our God.

Therefore, we truly need good and dedicated and loving leaders in this Church of God, to be the ones leading us in our approach towards the Lord. We need someone who follow the Lord and His love for those entrusted to Him, and not someone who will immediately run away at the first sign of trouble, or someone who do not love the sheep and do not put all of his heart and effort to his ministry. For those are the false and bad shepherds, the hired men who care not for those given to them.

However, brethren, this should not just be limited to just our bishops, our priests and those in the position of leadership. It is also important for us, to also follow in their footsteps, emulating the examples of the Lord, and become role models and leaders for one another. It is important for us that we help one another and support one another, that we help each other in our journey towards salvation, guided by our chosen leaders, the priests, and particularly the bishops.

Today, we commemorate the feast of St. Robert Bellarmine, a great religious and leader of the Universal Church, as both a Jesuit and a Cardinal. He lived at the era of upheaval in the Church, where heresies and rebellion against the faith were commonplace. St. Robert Bellarmine was appointed to positions of influence and entrusted with much responsibilities. Yet, he did not remain idle, and instead plunged himself into the work, totally committed to his vocation in life, that is to serve the people of God and uphold the truth of the faith.

St. Robert Bellarmine wrote extensively on the matters of the faith, contributing greatly to the advancement and enrichment of the faith in the Church. Through his works and contributions, many people returned to the faith, and his valuable writings remain widely studied even until today. St. Robert Bellarmine supported the Church’s attempt to counter Protestantism through the Countet-Reformation, working hard to protect the Holy Mother Church.

May the Lord continue to shower us with His love, and especially to our leaders, that we all will continue to reflect Christ and His love, love for all of us,  and the love He had once shown to the widow of Naim. Let us be loving and compassionate to our fellow men, showing them the care Christ had shown to us.

Inspired also by the examples of St. Robert Bellarmine, who committed himself fully to his appointed mission, and through his passionate defender of the faith, let us not be ignorant of the suffering of others, but let us empathise and open our hearts to those who need our love. And do not forget to always pray for our priests! Amen.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013 : 23rd Week of Ordinary Time (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green

Brothers and sisters in Christ, most beloved of God. Let us listen to the Lord calling to each one of us today, that we be transformed from our old, sinful self, into the new being of love and compassion. We have to break free of the prison of worldly pleasures and temptations of evil that had chained us for so long unto sin. It is time that all of us, with the power of Christ, break free from that chain into freedom, true freedom in God.

Today, in the Gospel, we heard one of the most memorable and yet also striking from the words and teachings of Jesus, that is the sermon on the Mount, or the Beatitudes, meaning Blesseds or blessings from the Latin word, Beatus, which we also use on our blessed holy men and women in heaven. Jesus emphasized on the virtues of doing what is good as He mentioned them, and the blessings that will be poured to them who do these things.

A word of warning here is that, because just as Jesus blessed the good and the upright, and also at the same time, curse the wicked and their wickedness, we must not misinterpret what the Lord truly wants from all of us. It may seem as if Jesus condemns all those who now enjoy a happy life, a fulfilling life, and a life of wealth, and supports those who are poor in material, those who hunger for food. Yet, the Lord did not mean that we should be like the Communists, who advocate class war between the rich, the privileged class, and the poor.

What the Lord intend for all of us to do, is to be truly transformed into beings of love, mercy, and compassion, no matter what backgrounds we had or what material possessions we had with us prior to our transformation. We must be transformed from beings of apathy and idleness, and beings of wickedness and greed, into truly children of our loving God. That is what Jesus wants from us through the teachings we listened to today.

This is because, if we talk about the division between the rich and the poor, we will end up be caught in a vicious cycle of hatred and eternal division between the two worlds. Yes, I mean it when I said two worlds, because the two worlds are so distinct, that a huge gap literally is present between them. What the Lord truly wants is that bridges be built over this gap, to let the rich embrace the poor, and vice versa.

Even among the poor, there can be discrimination and selfishness, people trampling over the other because of their superior power and authority, people who think only for themselves, and if necessary, at the expense of others also in need. The same too applies to the rich, and indeed, all of God’s children without exception in many different parts of this world. Being rich does not mean that someone is evil, but it is that with that greater blessing that God had bestowed on them, they are able to do more for the sake of their brethren in need.

What the Lord condemns is the people who cared not for the wellbeing of their fellow brethren, even if these people are poor themselves. The Lord condemns those who are wicked and practice wickedness in their lives, and casts them out of His presence, if they do not repent and change. To those who had plenty and had opened the doors of their wealth and their love, that the graces given to them may reach others, the Lord will give blessing, if not even greater blessings, because they had used whatever they have, and give it to those who need them.

Remember the words of the Lord, that to those who had been given much, even more will be given. That is why, to those among us who had been more privileged, it is an impetus for us to take up the challenge God had presented all of us today, to share a part of our joy and happiness with others, especially those who lack them and those who long for them.

What the Lord lamented was because most of the rich, the powerful, and the influential ones at His time on earth, did not care even at all for the least of the society. They made merry, celebrate parties and revelled in abundance. They ate, drank, danced, and slept in joy and happiness, and never has the rest of the beloved people of God, appeared in their mind. It is exactly this lack of love and action that infuriated God.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as today we are called to throw far, far away our old selves, our former sins, and our iniquities, and instead wear the armour of love and compassion, likened to the urging of St. Paul to the Colossians in the first reading. Let us be brave and have resolve to be loving and embracing to our brethren in need, to our brethren who needs our love, care, and attention, that we may be blessed by the Lord and be received into His kingdom of love and glory, instead of being cursed and condemned for our failure to do action.

Let us not point mistakes at others, and demand that others who disregarded the needs of the needy to change their lives and their decisions to work for the less fortunate. Instead, begin from ourselves, and take a proactive approach to follow what God told us through Christ today. Be a man of peace, of hope, of compassion, and of undying and eternal love. God bless us all. Amen.

Saturday, 7 September 2013 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White

Colossians 1 : 21-23

You yourselves were once estranged and opposed to God because of your evil deeds, but now God has reconciled you in the human body of His Son through His death, so that you may be without fault, holy and blameless before Him.

Only stand firm, upon the foundation of your faith, and be steadfast in hope. Keep in mind the Gospel you have heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which, I, Paul, became a minister.

Monday, 12 August 2013 : 19th Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal, Religious (Scripture Reflection)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we hear about the obligations we have in our lives, the obligations we have to this world, to our nations and our states, and most importantly, the obligation we have to the One True God, our Lord in heaven. Today’s Gospel reading is related to the similar case when the chief priests and the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus in His own words, by asking whether the people should or should not pay tax to Caesar as the Romans imposed on all their subject peoples.

Christ answered the Pharisees aptly, and similarly in this case, when He showed His great wisdom and understanding, which shows the same kind of answer presented to the challenge and test made by the Pharisees aimed at trapping Jesus in His own words. Christ showed that we should obey the law be it divine law or the law of the world, by respectively paying what is due to us to each of these laws and fulfill our obligations respectively.

Yes, that means, as in Christ’s own words, what is due to Caesar, give it to the Caesar, and what is due to the Lord, give it to the Lord. If the people of Jesus’ time are obliged to pay taxes to the Romans because of their position as subject of the Roman Empire, then so be it. But even more importantly, they are also at the same time, the subjects, the servants, and the people of the One, True God, and therefore, they too, should serve the Lord their God and give to Him what is expected by the Lord from all of them.

If we pay taxes to our world authorities, our nations and our governments, the analogues we have today with the Roman Empire of Jesus’ time, with money, with gold and silver, with worldly possession, then how do we pay our due to the Lord our God? We pay our God with our love, with the love that we pour out of our hearts towards Him, and towards our fellow brothers and sisters, the same children of God. That is what He truly wants from us, the love and dedication from us, and not just mere sacrifice or words.

Our nation, our government had given us much, through money, goods, security, care, and many other ways that they can make our lives in this world more comfortable, more convenient, and more relaxed. Through their works and services we had benefited much, just as what had happened during the time of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the Jews did suffer under the rule of the Romans, but they also enjoyed much from the rule by the Romans.

The Romans brought stability to the region and better livelihood to the Jews, who had been living in a turbulent time, in a region fought between the successor kingdoms of Alexander the Great’s Empire. Those who read the Book of the Maccabees will certainly know of the difficulties and struggles faced by the people before the time of Jesus, when the region of Judea was under constant warfare and conflicts. The Romans gave stable livelihood and relative peace to the people that the society of the Jews during the time of Jesus was roughly at peace.

Then, without delving too much into the history of the land, why then do we pay tribute to our Lord and God, the way that we had given tribute to the secular and worldly authorities? That was because just as the governments, authorities, and nations had taken care of us and done good things for us, the Lord our God had done even greater things for our sake, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Yes, He had given much to mankind, and He had poured out His love and grace to His beloved people, and not least of all, the descendants of Abraham His servants, that is the people of Israel themselves, whom He cared for and watched from generations to generations. He gave them all that they needed, and He delivered their enemies into their hands to be destroyed, as well as bringing them from the land of their slavery into the land He had promised their fathers. And even when they disobeyed Him and rebelled against His will, He remained faithful and loving to them, and even gave then a new hope, the long-awaited Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

It is therefore to this wonderful and ever-loving God that we give thanks and our wholehearted dedication. It is truly to The Lord that we must give our true allegiance and obedience, to His laws and commandments, superceding any other laws even those of this world. However, this does not mean that we should disobey any kind of worldly authorities that our governments and nations have over us. Instead, just as Christ had done Himself, in advocating to pay taxes to the Emperor and to the Temple, He taught all of us to obey our caretakers in this world as well as our Lord, as long as those caretakers do the duties entrusted to them by God dutifully and do not veer away from the path of the Lord.

Today, brethren, we commemorate the feast of a wonderful and holy saint, that is St. Jane Frances de Chantal. She left all that she had after the death of her husband at the end of the sixteenth century France, and joined the religious life, eventually setting up a religious order on her own, and opened many chapters and branches which works extended to the poor and the unloved ones of the society, giving them love, care, and compassion.

St. Jane Frances de Chantal gave her all in loving her fellow brethren in faith, and she wholeheartedly gave her full dedication to them, and therefore, at the same time, showing her own love and dedication to the Lord our God. That is her way of showing her gratitude and ‘paying her due’ to the Lord. She gave the Lord the wonderful offering of her love, both for Him and for His children, particularly the least of all of them. Yet, she was also dutiful to her own dedication to the society, remaining faithful to the laws of the land, that is the laws of the world.

Through the example set by St. Jane Frances de Chantal, let us be more inspired to do more for the Lord, for our fellow brethren, and for our society, giving our heart, our love, and our dedication to all of them, and in the process making sure that we always put the Lord our God before everything, and always keep Him in our hearts as we proceed with our daily lives and activities. May the Lord who bless us daily and protect us with the power of His hands strengthen us, and renew our faith, our hope, and our love for Him and for all of His people, that is all of us. God bless us all. Amen.